Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by David
Aquariums are often referred to as “living pictures” or “underwater paradises,” but to preserve this paradise in your living room, you need to address the essential aspects of aquaristics. One of the key elements is filtration, which allows maintaining the water in optimal conditions for your underwater pets. In this blog post, we will explore different aquarium filter types and how to choose the right filter for your needs.
Why Is Filtration Important?
Before we delve into the types of filters, it’s important to understand why filtration is so crucial for the health of your aquarium. Aquariums represent a complex balance of fish, plants, food, and waste. Fish excrete waste, food decomposes, and plants produce waste products. All of this leads to an increase in the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water. Without proper filtration, these toxic elements can accumulate and cause serious problems for your fish and plants.
Filtration serves several key functions:
- Mechanical Filtration: Removes particles of waste, food residues, and other solid matter from the water.
- Biological Filtration: Allows the breakdown of toxic compounds, such as ammonia and nitrites, into less toxic nitrates, with the help of beneficial bacteria.
- Chemical Filtration: Utilizes special media or chemical substances to remove unwanted chemicals and odors from the water.
Types of Aquarium Filters
There are several different types of filters that you can use in your aquarium, and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the most commonly used aquarium filters:
- Internal Filters: These filters are located inside the aquarium, usually attached to the glass. They are easy to install and maintain, but they take up space within the aquarium. Internal filters use a combination of mechanical and biological filtration.
- External Filters (Canister Filters): External filters are positioned outside the aquarium and connected with hoses. They offer greater filtration capacity and do not occupy internal space in the aquarium, making it more aesthetically pleasing. External filters often combine mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
- Sump Filters: These filters are often used in larger aquariums. A sump is a separate reservoir located beneath the aquarium and is used for mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. Sump filters are highly customizable and can serve various purposes.
- Sponge Filters: Sponge filters use a sponge-like head connected to a pump. They are particularly useful for small aquariums and breeding boxes, providing gentle and mild filtration.
- Rotary Drum Filters: These filters are relatively new and employ a rotating drum covered with a fine mesh for mechanical filtration. They are efficient in removing fine particles from the water.
- UV Sterilizers: UV sterilizers use ultraviolet light to kill algae, pathogens, and other organisms in the water. They are often used as an addition to other types of filters.
- Chemical Filters: Chemical filters use specific media such as activated carbon, zeolite, or resins for the absorption and removal of chemical substances from the water. These filters are typically used to address specific water issues, such as unpleasant odors or excessive nitrates.
How to Choose the Right Filter for Your Aquarium
Choosing the right filter for your aquarium depends on several factors. Here are some steps to follow in making the right decision:
- Aquarium Size: The first thing to consider is the size of your aquarium. Larger aquariums require more powerful filters with a higher filtration capacity.
- Type of Fish and Plants: The fish and plants in your aquarium play a crucial role in filter selection. Some fish species produce more waste than others, and plants can affect water quality. Understanding the inhabitants of your aquarium will help you choose the right filter.
- Filtration Needs: Consider how much mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration your aquarium requires. Do you have issues with algae blooms, unpleasant odors, or high ammonia levels? Based on these issues, you can decide which type of filtration you need.
- Installation and Maintenance: Think about how much time and effort you can dedicate to filter maintenance. Internal filters are usually easier to set up but may require more frequent cleaning. External filters and sump filters, while effective, demand more effort for installation and maintenance.
- Budget: Filter prices vary, so it’s important to find one that fits your budget while meeting your needs.
- Additional Features: Sometimes, it’s helpful to consider additional features that a filter may offer. Some filters come with built-in UV sterilizers or are compatible with other devices like water heaters.
- Reviews and Recommendations: Before making a decision, research and read reviews from other aquarists. You can also consult with pet store professionals for recommendations.
Popular Aquarium Filters
Now that you understand the importance of filtration and the factors influencing filter selection, let’s take a look at some popular filters on the market:
- Fluval FX6 Canister Filter: This external filter is known for its exceptional filtration capacity and ease of maintenance. It’s ideal for medium to large aquariums.
- Eheim Classic Canister Filter: Eheim is a well-known filter brand with a long-standing tradition. Their Classic models are reliable and provide excellent filtration.
- AquaClear HOB Filter: This filter is positioned over the edge of the aquarium and offers good mechanical and biological filtration. It’s easy to maintain and comes in various sizes.
- Hydor Professional External Canister Filter: Another external filter, the Hydor Professional, offers quiet operation and efficient filtration. It’s suitable for medium-sized aquariums.
- Sponge Filter: Sponge filters are often used for small aquariums and breeding boxes. They provide gentle and affordable filtration.
- UV Sterilizers: You can always add a UV sterilizer as an additional option to control algae and pathogens in your aquarium.
Remember that each filter comes with specific installation and maintenance instructions, so follow those guidelines to ensure your aquarium remains clean and healthy.
- Why is filtration important in an aquarium?
Filtration is crucial for maintaining the health and cleanliness of water in the aquarium. It removes waste materials, toxic substances, and particles that could harm fish and plants.
- How do I know which type of filter I need for my aquarium?
The choice of filter depends on factors such as the aquarium’s size, the type of fish and plants, filtration needs, budget, and maintenance readiness. Carefully consider all these factors before making a decision.
- How often should I clean the filter?
More frequent cleanings are usually necessary for filters with mechanical filtration, while biological filters need time to establish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but in general, cleaning every 2-4 weeks is a good rule of thumb.
- What is biological filtration?
Biological filtration involves beneficial bacteria that break down toxic compounds like ammonia and nitrites into less toxic nitrates. This type of filtration is crucial for maintaining stable conditions in the aquarium.
- Is a UV sterilizer necessary for every aquarium?
UV sterilizers are not required for every aquarium, but they can be useful for controlling algae and pathogens. Their use depends on specific water issues you might encounter.
- Can I use more than one filter in the same aquarium?
Yes, combining different filters is a common practice to enhance filtration quality and address specific issues. For instance, you can use an external canister filter along with a sponge filter to improve biological filtration. Combining filters with different functions can provide a more comprehensive and efficient approach to maintaining water quality.
- Do aquarium filters produce noise?
The noise level produced by aquarium filters varies depending on the type of filter and the manufacturer. Many modern filters are designed to operate quietly, but it’s a good idea to check product reviews or consult with the retailer for recommendations if you’re concerned about noise.
- How do I know if the filter is powerful enough for my aquarium?
The capacity of the filter should match the water volume of your aquarium. Manufacturers often provide information about the suitable aquarium sizes for their filters. Select a filter that can handle the volume of water in your tank to ensure effective filtration.
- Is chemical filtration always necessary?
Chemical filtration is not always required. It is most useful for addressing specific water quality issues, such as removing odors or reducing high nitrate levels. If your aquarium water is consistently clear and your fish and plants are healthy, you may not need additional chemical filtration.
- How do I maintain a consistent level of filtration during filter cleaning?
To maintain a constant level of filtration when cleaning your filter, it’s advisable to retain a portion of the old filter media or sponge to preserve the beneficial bacteria. Additionally, avoid cleaning the filter on the same day you clean other parts of the aquarium to preserve the biological balance.
Filtration is a critical component of a successful aquarium. Selecting the right filter depends on various factors, including the size of the aquarium, the type of fish and plants, filtration requirements, your budget, and your willingness to maintain the filter. Thorough research and understanding of these factors will help you choose a filter that will keep your aquarium in optimal condition.
Don’t forget to regularly monitor water quality in your aquarium and maintain the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. With the right filter and proper maintenance, your aquatic inhabitants will thrive in a clean and healthy environment, making your aquarium a living picture that you can proudly enjoy every day.